Skip to main content

Full text of "THE LIFE AND EDUCATIONAL CONTRIBUTION OF SHRI R. V. PARULEKAR"

See other formats


THE LIFE AND EDUCATIONAL CONTRIBUTION OF 
Shri R. V. PARULEKAR 

BY 

J. P. NAIK, 

Secretary , Shri Mouni V idyapeeth , Gargoti 

i. Introductory: This volume of the selected writings of Shri 

V. Parulekar will meet a long-felt need of the educational world. 
His studies on the problem of literacy have been so profound and have 
made so great a mark on the students of fundamental education that 
his books have been constantly in demand, not only from the students 
of education in India, but even from those in other parts of the world. 
Unfortunately most of his writings have recently been out of print and 
requests for the supply of their copies had to be reluctantly replied to 
in the negative. The publication of this volume on the auspicious 
occasion when its author completes seventy years of age will, therefore, 
be regarded as a blessing by educationists interested in the problem of 
mass literacy, especially because it brings together, for the first time, 
most of his earlier writings which were scattered in the old issues of 
different journals. No words can, therefore, be adequate to express 
the gratitude of the teaching profession to the Celebrations Committee 
for having made this book available to the public in so attractive a form 
and at so low a price. 

The Celebrations Committee have naturally approached their 
problem from the personal point of view and have timed the publica- 
tion of this volume on the seventy-first birthday of Shri Parulekar. But 
it would not be out of place to point out that there is a wider national 
significance also for this occasion. The framers of the Second Five- 
Year Plan were confronted with a situation similar to that which Shri 
Parulekar has been trving to solve for the last 25 years. On the one 
hand they found that(there is an intense desire for the spread of educa- 
tion among the people and on the other, they were faced with such a 
shortage of funds that only a sum of about Rs. 300 crores could be 
assigned to education as against a demand of Rs. 1,080 crores?! They 
were, therefore, compelled to suggest that (economy devices like the shift 
system which are being advocated by Shri Parulekar should be seriously 
considered by educational administrators during the Second Five-Year 
Plan and that the available resources should be so utilised as to secure 
the maximum expansion possible?) It, therefore, goes without saying 
thatfteachers and administrators throughout the country will soon have 
to study this problem of balancing our vast educational needs against 
the slender resources now available and that they will also be com- 




(x7 Life and Educational Contribution of Shri Parulekar 

pelled to work out several economy devices with the ultimate object of 
realising the constitutional directive that free and compulsory primary 
education upto 14 years shall be provided for every child by 1961. The 
publication of this volume is, therefore, very opportune as it will enable 
the Education Departments of the States to understand properly “ the 
mechanics of educational expansion in an under-developed economy ” 
and would materially assist in realising the targets which have been 
defined in the Second Five-Year Plan. 

The principal object of this article is to pay a tribute to this grand 
old teacher of the Bombay State and to join with his friends and 
admirers in a prayer that he should be blessed with a long and peaceful 
life and that he be spared to serve the educational needs of the country 
until his long cherished dream of a hundred per cent literacy is realised. 
It would not be out of place, however, to precede this tribute by a nar- 
ration of the main events of his personal life. 

2. Early life and education (1886-1911): The biography of a 

teacher, or even of an educational administrator like Shri Parulekar, is 
never crowded and can be briefly summarised. Shri R. V. Parulekar, 
or “ Ramabhau ” as he is more intimately known to his circle of friends, 
was born in the village of Parule of the Vengurla Taluka in the Ratna- 
giri District on 7th of July 1886, as the eldest son of a family of Goud 
Saras wat Brahmins. His father, Shri Vithal Govind Parulekar, was a 
landlord in fairly easy circumstances. But by about 1892, he lost all 
his lands as a result of a family settlement and had to maintain him- 
self by running a small shop. This gave but a meagre income at best 
and as he had a large family to maintain, Ramabhau had to obtain his 
education against a background of financial difficulties. In Maha- 
rashtra this is, by no means, an unusual feature of the education of 
children in lower middle class families. 

The village of Parule appears to have a fairly big population in 
the -Census Reports; but it is divided into 32 hamlets each of which has 
only a small population. Fortunately, however, the hamlet in which 
Ramabhau was born had a local primary school which taught upto pri- 
mary standards VI — the highest standard of the primary course as it 
then existed. To this humble school, Ramabhau was sent as a student 
at the age of seven and he remained there till 1897 when he completed 
primary standard V. His father then thought it desirable to send him 
to an English school and as no such provision existed in Parule, he 
shifted his entire family to Vengurla where the Municipality conducted 
a small Anglo- Vernacular Middle School. Ramabhau studied at this 
"school from 1897 to 1902 and completed the first five standards of 
the secondary school course. He was then sent to the Bhandari High 
School at Malvan where he studied from 1902 to 1904 and passed the 
Matriculation Examination in the latter year. 




Life and Educational Contribution of Shri Parulekar xi 

Ordinarily this would have meant an end of all education for 
Ramabhau because his father did not have the financial resources to 
send him to a college. But fortunately Ramabhau had stood high in 
the Matriculation Examination so that he was able to secure a scholar- 
ship in the Elphinstone College of Bombay. The amount of the 
scholarship was small — Rs. io per month — but it was further aug- 
mpted^by a loan scholarship of Rs. io p.m. from a charitable fS 
The amount of the scholarship itself was to be increased to Rs. 15 in 
the Intermediate Class and to Rs. 20 in the B.A. Classes. In those days 
of low prices, even this small sum of Rs. 20 to 30 was adequate to meet 
all the expenses of a college student with simple habits. Ramabhau, 
therefore, joined the Elphinstone College in Bombay in 1905. As he 
passed every college examination in the second class and secured a high 
rank, the college scholarship was awarded to him year after year and 
he was able to complete his college education and obtain the B.A. 
degree, with Physics and Chemistry as optional subjects, in 1908. 
These were the first years when he left the rural surroundings of his 
childhood and stayed in a metropolitan city like Bombay, devoting him- 
self exclusively to his studies. Looking back, Ramabhau recalls them 
as one of the happiest periods of his life. 

(it is the general law of the world that sorrow and happiness 
succeed each other like night and day and very soon after his happy 
college days were over, a period of storm and stress came into Rama- 
bhau’s life) Early in 1909, he lost his father so that he was called 
upon, not only to maintain himself in Bombay, but also to support, in 
his native, place, a large family which consisted of his mother, two 
younger sisters * and a brother. He had, therefore, to cut out all his 
ambitions of further studies and seek employment as a part-time assistant 
master in the Maratha High School which was then located in Angre- 
vadi, Girgaum. He served this institution for three years; but as the 
salary that he received was not adequate to meet his needs, he had to 
engage in private tuitions — both in the morning and at night. One 
of his students of this period was a European lady who wanted to learn 
Sanskrit and who used to address him as “Pandit Parulekar”. He 
stayed at such a distance from her residence that he lost nearly the 
whole of his morning in this single tuition, but the sum .of Rs. 20 
which she paid every month was too important to be lost. (The recol- 
lection of adversities successfully overcome is always a pleasant pastime) 
and I have often listened with great interest and pleasure to Rama- 
bhau’s inimitable description of his miserable life during this period. 
It. must, however, have been very tiresome indeed to do a number of 
tuitions and part-time teaching work and in addition, to prepare for the 
MA._ degree on which he had set his heart. But Ramabhau persisted 

# Of his four sisters, two had been married prior to 1909. 




xii Life and Educational Contribution of Shri Parulekar 

valiantly and obtained the M.A. degree (with Chemistry as principal 
subject) in 1911. His financial difficulties lengthened the period of 
study to three years and he also failed to secure a class. But Masters 
of Arts were rare in those days and soon afterwards, his immediate 
financial worries came to an end when the Topivala High School of 
Malvan invited him to be its Head Master (1912). Ramabhau there- 
upon left Bombay and did not return again to it until sixteen years later. 

3. Headmaster of the Topivala High School, Malvan (1912-28): 
From 1912 to 1928, Ramabhau worked as the Head Master of the 
Topivala High School at Malvan. Supported by the generous family 
of the Topivala Desais which has contributed several lakhs of rupees to 
the cause of education in this State, this High School was already a 
promising institution in 1912. But under the able guidance of Rama- 
bhau who is a.. first-iate teacher, it soon rose in stature and became one 
of ffie best High Schools in the Ratnagiri District. Tdis great scholar- 
ship, keen sense of humour and super-abundant kindliness made him 
loved by his students some of whom have since risen to great eminence 
in public life) (His democratic temperament and infinite capacity to 
adjust to all angular ities made him an efficient Head Master who was 
able to carry all his colleagues with him and also to establish cordial 
relations with the Department and the public) The Topivala High 
School, therefore, soon began to increase in strength and put forth 
better results. Shri Anant Shivaji Desai Topivala who had only pro- 
mised a small donation of Rs. 5,000 when the High School was started 
and named after him in 1911, soon began to love the institution and 
gave munificent support for acquisition of lands and construction of 
buildings. He* also endowed it with a donation of Rs. 80,000. In 
the departmental circles also, the reputation of the High School stood 
high and Shri JR.. V. Parulekar was looked upon as one of the ablest of 
Head Masters in the State. 

Today few people realise how difficult a job it was to work as a 
Head Master of a secondary school during this period. Those were 
years of great political unrest when even the functions of the Education 
Department were partly of a police character and it was required to see 
that no subversive activities of any type were carried on in any recog- 
nised school and that no teacher committed the sin of infecting his 
students with a sense of patriotism. The rules and regulations of the 
Department were extremely strict and were enforced with a rigour 
which would be difficult to believe. The European Inspectors of 
schools were a terror to the humble He^d Masters of private secondary 
schools and the Indian Inspectors often proved to be even worse than 
their masters. To add to all such insults, a further injury to private 
schools was done by the then policy of the Education Department which 
spent a very large portion of the funds available on improving a few 




Shri R. V. PARULEKAR 




Headmaster, Topivala 
High School, Malvan 
(1912-28) 



Shri R. V. PARULEKAR 




Secretary, Municipal Schools Committee, 
Bombay 
(1928-41) 



Life and Educational Contribution of Shri Parulekar xiii 

Government schools as “ models ” to private enterprise, so that the non- 
Government secondary schools could only be given miserably small 
grants-in-aid. A sensitive and proud soul like that of Ramabhau chafed 
at the humiliation to which the Head Master of a private schooThad 
often to submit. His creative instinct also revolted against the cramp- 
ing influence of the Departmental regulations and he began to feel that 
secondary education would really be better off if a greater freedom were 
to be allowed to the schools and if the Head Masters were entrusted 
with a greater responsibility, fie also felt that if the Department 
would drop the idea of developing Government High Schools as models 
and would spend the bulk of the funds available on improving the 
grants-in-aid to private- schools, the cause of secondary education would 
progress on sounder lineis)* It is not necessary to describe in detail 
either the nu merous experiences of his Head Mastership with the 
humorous description of which Ramabhau often regales his friends, 
or with his deep musings on the reform of secondary Education. It 
would be enough to state that (they formed the basis of his research 
work in England and of his later attempts to educate and improve the 
secondary schools of this State!) 

In spite of the professional difficulties described above, his long 
ten ure of office as Head Master of the Topivala High School brought 
two great opportunities to Ramabhau. The first opportunity came in 
19x6 whenf ne was selected for admission to the Secondary Training \ 
College at Bombay. He stayed here for a year and obtained the S.T.C. 
Diploma with a first-class. This college had been started in 1906, but 
5 ven in 19 1 6, the training of the secondary teachers was still in its 
infancy. The entire staff of the college consisted of twp members— a 
European Principal and an Indian Vice-Principay Ramabhau’s 
reminiscences of this collegiate year are of very great interest. Apart 
from the light which they throw on his own personal life, they are of 
importance as depicting^the rather crude manner in which teachers 
were trained at this periocT when the teaching of general and special 
methods was regarded as the be-all and end-all of all training institutions!) 
An even more important opportunity, however, came six years later 
when the late Shri Anant Shivaji Desai Topivala gave a scholarship of 
Rs. 400 per month to enable Ramabhau to go to England with a view ^ 
to obtaining a post-graduate degree in education} Ramabhau accord- 
ingly sailed in January 1922, obtained the T.D. of the University of 
London and the M.Ed. of the University of Leeds, and returned to India 
in February 1924. For his M.Ed. degree, he wrote a thesis on the 
Problem of Education in Bombay Presidency* (with special reference to 



*In this connection, the interested student may refer to Ramabhau’s paper on 
Government Secondary Schools published in the Progress of Education , January and 
March 1926. This document has not been reprinted here, mainly because its thesis 
is now out-dated. But it created a veritable sensation at the time of its publication. 




xiv Life and Educational Contribution of Shri Parulekar 

higher education) under the guidance of Professor Strong. This 
document was referred to ? 'Sir Michael Sadler ( as an examiner who appre- 
ciated it very greatly and recommended that it should be published 
forthwith. Unfortunately, this recommendation was not seriously 
taken up by anyone so tnat an excellent work remained unknown for 
a number of years. Recently it became financially possible to publish 
the thesis; but the proposal had to be dropped on the ground that most 
of its recommendations had come to be accepted by Government and 
that it had largely become obsolete due to sneer lapse of time. The 
excellent chapter on the Medium of Instruction included in the second 
part of the thesis, however, has been printed in this volume,* partly 
because the valuable material which it contains is still generally un- 
known and partly as an indication of the high standard of research 
work which was done by Ramabhau for his M.Ed. Examination. 

It is worthy of record that Ramabhau had the unique good fortune 
to study under eminent educationists like John Adam and T. Percy 
Nunn. Both the professors were greatly impressed by Ramabhau and 
the latter in particular has spoken about his scholarship and capacity in 
glowing terms. * “ I wish it to be clear,” wrote Nunn in a testimonial 
issued in 1922, “ thatiMr. Parulekar is, in my judgment, a teacher and 
a student of great merit, judged by any standard, and, in particular, 
that he stands high among the best men we have received from India. 
In addition to attending the ordinary lectures and classes in this College 
(including special courses on the teaching of English and Geography), 
he has read assiduously in the libraries of the India Office and the 
British Museum with a view to the thesis which he will present for the 
degree of M.A. His research has direct reference to the educational 
problems of the Bombay Presidency and can hardly fail to increase his 
value to the service of his native province.” Coming from an authority 
like Nunn, this is indeed a great tribute; and the review of Ramabhau’s 
later life shows that it was well deserved and even prophetic. 4 

On his return from England, Ramabhau’s status as an educationist 
of repute was accepted in official and non-official circles alike. The 
first formal recognition of this came when me w as appointed as the 
o nly Head Master on the Joint Examination Board which used to con- 
duct tEF^atnculation and S.U.C. Examinations (1925^. The second 
recognition came soon afterwards in 1927 when (he was appointed as 
a Me mber of the Committee on Primary and SecotiTary Education , 
.known popularly as the Hesketh Committee) The report of this 
Committee was published in 1929 sfhd it shows, to some extent, the 
influence of the ideas which Ramabhau had stated in his thesis and 
which have been briefly incorporated in a preceding paragraph. It was 



* See pp. 1-40, supra . 




Life and Educational Contribution of Shri Parulekar 



obviously impossible for the Committee to subscribe to the radical views 
which Ramabhau held on the subject. He, therefore, had to resort to 
a non-official platform to put forward his ideas and it was one of the 
lucky coincidences of his life that he now met the late Shri M. R. 
Paranjape. (Both Shri Paranjape and Shri Parulekar were champions 
of the cause of private secondary schools and their desire to reduce 
departmental control and increase the status and independence of pri- 
vate schools was equally strong. They, therefore, made a common 
rause and the Progress of Education which Shri Paranjape edited from 
Poona carried on a strong and continuous crusade on behalf of the pri- 
vate schools/ Ramabhau always recalls his friendship with Shri M. R. 
Paranjape as one of the bright es t spots in Jiis life and students of educa- 
tion need not be told of the great service which this pair of teachers has 
done to further the independence and autonomy of private enterprise 
in secondary education. r 

4 * 'E hc _Sg£retary^qf the Schools Committee, Bombay (1928-41): 
m 1928 came another break in Ramabhau Y career— he retir ed from the 
Togivala High School and decided to seek employment elsewhere, 
fust about this time, the p o st: of the Secretory of the Bombay Municipal 
bchopls Committee became vacant and Ramabhau’s friends induced him 
to apply for it. Fortunately for primary education, Ramabhau’s appli- 
cation succeeded and he was selected as the Secretary of the Schools 
”5?™ittee j of the Bombay Corporation. For the following 13 years, 
therefore, his home was in Bombay and he continued to hold the post 
of the Secretary of the Schools Committee and to administer the primary 
schools within the area of the City. 



This appointment to a high and well-paid post was a great bless- 
uig, both personal and public. From the personal point of view, it 
brought in a period of comparative financial ease and stability for the 
family. According to the traditional custom, Ramabhau had been 
married in 1902 at the early age of fifteen and Sou. Sitabai was then 
only nine. Their family life began in 1907 and their first child, a 
son, was born in 1910. By 1928, the family had grown larger with 
six children and in addition Ramabhau was required to support and 
educate a number of other dependants as well. It was becoming in- 
creasingly difficult to fulfil all the obligations of such a large family in 
an out-of-the-way place like Malvan and on the meagre salary which 
the Head Master of the Topivala High School was allowed to draw. 
Tne change-over to Bombay, combined with the larger salary that now 
became available, made it possible to provide better education to the 
children and the dependants and also brought in freedom from many 
a domestic worry that is essentially financial in origin. 

, From public point of view, the gain was even greater and of 
ar-reaching significance. (His appointment as Secretary of the Schools 




xvi Life and Educational Contribution of Shri Parulekar 

Committee brought him face to face with the problem of mass educa- 
tion with which he had little to do in the past)) ^In the whole of his 
thesis, scholarly as it is, there is not even a reference to the outstanding 
problems of primary education to which he was to render so significant 
a service in later years)) (Even in his writings published prior to 1933 
there is litde or no reference to the problems of literacy or primary 
education \ But his earlier absorption with secondary education now 
disappeared and his alert mind now began to grapple with the problems 
of mass education^ As a Secretary of the Schools Committee, he was 
called upon to deal with almost every aspect of primary education, viz. 
the enforcement of compulsion which had been introduced in two 
Wards of the City a little earlier in 1925,- the recruitment as well as 
academic and administrative control of a very large body of primary 
teachers; the difficulties involved in controlling primary schools through 
an ultra-democratic agency like the Schools Committee; the shortage of 
buildings; the paucity of funds; the intricate problems of curricula and 
teaching methods; and the large prevalence of problems like wastage 
or stagnation which made primary education largely ineffective in pro- 
ducing literacy) Qt took about five years for him to understand the 
problems of mass education in India and to work out a tentative solu- 
tion for them^f But by 1933 his academic and alert mind had prepared 
a tentative programme of mass education, not only for the City of 
Bombay, not eyen for the State of Bombay, but for the entire Indian 
continent itself*/ 

^The peculiar problem which Ramabhau was called upon to solve 
in the Municipal Schools Committee was that of finance) vOn the one 
hand, he found that the number of children to be educated was con- 
tinually increasing, partly as a result of the growth of population iivthe 
City and partly in consequence of a growing desire for education) (. On 
the other hand, he found that the funds available for primary education 
were getting scantier) As stated before, Ramabhau became Secretary to 
the Schools Committee in 1928. In the following year, the world 
economic depression set in and its effects were very keenly felt in India 
from 1930. Cuts and retrenchment became, therefore, the order of the 
day andCthe Schools Committee was required to solve the apparently 
impossible problem of educating more children on an inadequate and 
inelastic budget) (It is to the credit of Ramabhau that he studied the 
problem in its sociological, historical and comparative aspects and came 
to the conclusion that new and more appropriate techniques of educa- 
tional expansion had to be adopted if the goal of universal education 
was to be realised in an under-develoged economy like that of India) 
He set forth his conclusions in this respect in a small pamphlet entitled 
Mass Education in India * which made an unobtrusive appearance in 
an early issue of the Local Self-Government Quarterly in 1934. 



*- See pp. 41-88, supra. 




Life and Educational Contribution of Shri Parulekar xvii ) 



5. Mass Education in India (^15)34): It is not improbable that 

even the puBlTcatioh of tTm pamphlet with its revolutionary ideas would 
have passed unnoticed and that it might have created no bigger stir than 
the fallin g of a single r ain-drop in an expansive lake. But a miracle 
happened and the Times of India which has a capacity to make or un- 
make fames, decided to review the pamphlet. On the 23rd of March 
1934, therefore, a well-drafted and appreciative leading article appeared 
in its columns and it recommended the scheme propounded by Shri 
R. V. Parulekar for the serious consideration of the people. After 
making out a case for immediate expansion of mass education and after 
pointing out that the country was not in a position to afford the huge 
financial outlay which a scheme of compulsory education drawn up on 
the traditional pattern would require, the article proceeded to state how 
Shri Parulekar proposed to solve the problem and said: 

(^The necessity for an immediate expansion in primary education 
urges Mr. Parulekar to make suggestions for drastic reform. 
They are based on the experience of other countries and are 
,/"• eminently practical^^n the first place he suggests that the five- 
year course of primary education should be reduced to one of 
four years .*J>Krhis is in consonance with the view of the Hartog 
Committee that a minimum course of four years is sufficient for 
ensuring literacy) ^S econdly, the compulsory age-period should 
be changed from 6-1 1 to 7-11 ) (Thirdly, the number of sub- 
> jects taught in the primary schools should be revised in order 
\ to make them simple and more easily understood by the child-. 
Yen of the masses^ vThe object of this suggestion is to concen-' 
jtrate on the essentials, the minimum required for literacy) 
U (Four thly. the number of pupils per teacher in the primary 
^.schools should be increased from thirty to sixty on the rolls) 
f (This is the crux of the problem of educational expansion, and 
undoubtedly the most controversial.) It should be noted that in 
the earlier stages England, Germany and Japan, among other 
countries, allowed sixty or more pupils per teacher. ( The 
Bombay teacher is not incompetent as compared with teachers 
in other parts of the world.) ( lastly , wherever classes of sixty 
pupils cannot be arranged for, a system of part-time instructipn 
may be introduced, thus making it possibleTor each teacher to 
look after not less than sixty pupils) 



V 

>• 



“ All these suggestions make inroads on ‘efficiency’ and fancy 
theories, but they have to be seriously considered if it is desired 
to make an end of illiteracy in the .near future.^^lt is only too 
obvious that the administration of the present system, limited 
as it is to one-third of the total number of children of school- 
going age, costs every anna that Government and local bodies 
can afford, and without a miracle it is unlikely that there will 
ii 




xviii Life and Educational Contribution of Shri Parulekar 

be an expansion .of education on present lines for the next 
hundred years y\ The problem resolves itself into a choice 
\ between efficiency and expansion, the ‘ efficient instruction ’ of 
\ the few and the ‘ literacy ’ of the many. Assuming that com- 
tpulsion is desirable, it is for this generation to decide whether 
St will be achieved in our life-time or left to the Greek Kalends)’ 



At the time when this article appeared in the press, there was a 
very large section of intelligentsia in this State which almo st regarded 
jt_3S-. a religiou s duty to read the leading articles of ths Times of India 
.~Q n tbe 23rd of March 1934, therefore, thousands of 
ectuals In the State suddenly awoke to the fact that one Mr. R. V. 
Parulekar who was the Secretary of the Municipal Schools Committee 
in Bombay had put forward an arresting scheme for the development 
of mass education. The number of such persons increased still further 
because the Times of India really started a chain of other sympathetic 
reviews in the press. The Bombay Chronicle and the Free Press 
Journal also wrote leaders on the problem on the 3rd of April and the 
Bombay Sentinel followed suit on the 6th of the same month. The 
Marathi press also did not lag behind and papers like the Dnyanpra/^ash, 
Sa\al, Pratibha, Nirbhid and Chitramaya Jagat took up the problem and 
wrote explanatory and commending articles. (The Gujarati press also 
accorded an enthusiastic welcome to the proposals. In a short time, 
therefore, the task begun by the Times of India was almost fully accom- 
plished and Ramabhau’s scheme had reached the leading citizens from 
all parts of the State and was being discussed in all official and non- 
official circles connected with primary education. “ I awoke one 
morning,” says Ramabhau, “ ^nd found myself famousT’ " 



Is it merely due to the accident of the decision of the Times of 
India to write a leading article thereon that was responsible to secure 
such publicity to this pamphlet? Or was it due to any larger and 
deeper historical significance that the pamphlet attracted such universal 
attention and received so warm a commendation? It is true that the 
Times of India did ajv ery sig nal service to the cause of mass education 
by reviewing this pamphl'etina leading article and that it materially 
contributed to securing public recognition to the proposals which it con- 
tained. But(it is also equally true to say that the pamphlet happened 
to be published at a critical time in the history of compulsory education 
in this State and that it would soon have attracted attention to itself, 
/even if the Times of India has not selected it for front-rank publicity^ 
j/T’he British administrators had opposed the public demand for compul- 
sory primary education on the ground that, in a poor country like India, 
the principle of compulsory education was neither desirable nor prac- 
\ ticablej/fhe efforts of social workers like Gopal Krishna Gokhale had 
succeeded in establishing the desirability of compulsory education and 




Life and Educational Contribution of Shri Parulekar xix 

the Bombay Primary Education Act of 1923 had given authority to the 
local bodies to introduce compulsion in urban and rural areas!) (But the 
practicability of a programme of universal, free and compulsory primary 
education had yet to be established and no one had been able to produce 
a scheme whi^h the financial resources of the Government would be 
able to support!) (At this critical juncture, Ramabhau entered the scene 
with his revolutionary proposals and showed that even a poor country 
like India can have a programme of universal education and liquidate 
its mass illiteracy in a short time, if certain novel techniques of develop- 
ment which had been adopted by other nations in a similar state of > 
economic and cultural development, were to be boldly accepted!) This 
. announcement came as a great ray of hope to Indian educators because 
( it provided a convincing proof of the practicability of compulsory 
education in India. The pamphlet, therefore, marked a significant 
landmark in the history of m^ss education in India and carried the 
work of Gokhale a step further) It would, therefore, have been im- 
possible to ignore it altogether and it was bound to create a stir in 
educational circles, sooner or later. 

It was not to be expected that so revolutionary an approach to the 
problem would remain unnotice^. by the Department and it would not 
have been wrong to expect thatfGovernment would welcome the pro* 
yposals whose only object was to liquidate mass illiteracy in a short time) 
(Unfortunately, however, the ideas put forward by the Mass Education 
in India were stoutly opposed by the Education Department which 
resented the fact that its policy or emphasizing ‘ quality ’ rather than 
‘quantity’ had been challenged by Ramabhau!) The Officers of the 
Department, therefore, started a crusade against the ideology which he 
had put forward and a highly placed Departmental Officer went even 
to the extent of saying that “ Shri R. V. Parulekar should be drowned V 
in the Ar abian Sea with his book ”. This general official opposition 
was aTscT strengthened, to some - extent, by adverse criticism from a few 
Indians as well. \ Some of the opponents were men of great learning 
and integrity who had genuine differences of opinion on the subject 
and who felt that a rapid expansion of education on the lines indicated 
by Ramabhau would water down its quality to a level that would be 
dangerous to the interests of the country as a whole! But a large part 
of die opposition came from circles which usually echoed official 
opinion and policies. ( It is also interesting to note that a section of the 
Marathi Press tried to give a communal colour to the controversy by 
suggesting that Ramabhau’s proposals were a deliberate attempt to 
keep the education of the masses at a lower level of efficiency) But 
fortunately, the opposition to the proposals did not gather much 
strength and the support accorded to them was so general that the 
matter was ultimately taken to the legislature. 




XX 



Life and Educational Contribution of Shri Parulekar 

“ *¥ Rojnba y Legislative Council 
& L -, R - J okhaIe wko was ^ a Member of the Bombay 

Legislative Council and was greatly impressed by the proposals of Rama- 

bhau moved the following resolution in the BomC Legislative 
Council on 4 th September 1934;— X g 

This Council recommends to Government that they should 
take immediate steps to achieve rapid expansion of mass educa- 
tion within the available financial resources by adopting the 
following, among other measures: — 6 

(a) simplification of the curriculum of the lower primary 
schools, mat is, of Standards Infant to IV, so as to con- 
iine the instructions to the three R’s; 

(b) reducing the period of instruction in the lower primary 
schools from five years (Infant and Standards I to IV) 
to four years (Standards I to IV); 

(c) entrusting, on an average, a large number of pupils than 
at present to the care of one teacher; 

Vi (d) organising of the lower primary school instruction on the 
basis of the shift system; and 

(e) imparting of part-time instruction wherever necessary by 
the employment of peripatetic teachers}’ 

• * n . terestk *g debate followed and several members took part 

m the discussion But the Hon’ble the Education Minister of this 
period, Diwan Bahadur S. T. Kambli, was not prepared to accept it. 
He pleaded that there was a good deal of difference of opinion among 
the educationists themselves on the points raised in the resolution. He 
however, assured the House that it would be carefully considered. The 
resolution was withdrawn on this assurance, but Government did 
nothing to implement it, or even to examine it in detail. 

7 - -Literacy in India (1939): This failure of a high-level 

attempt to induce Government to work out a programme of universal 
education on an unorthodox basis was a great set-back to the cause} 
Ramabhau, however, was undaunted and decided to organise educative 
propaganda for his propsalsl With this object in view, he published 
a small book called in Jn dia * in 1939. The fundamental 

thesis put forward in this book was the same as in the Mass Education 
tn India', but.it had some additional and distinctive features. To begin 
with-it made a successful attempt, the first of its type in India, to cor- 
relate the educational statistics of school attendance with the census statis- 
tics of adult literacy.) This task had been attempted in the past on 
several occasions; but no one had yet succeeded in demonstrating the 



* See pp. 89-311, supra . 




Life and Educational Contribution of Shri Parulekar 



correct relationship between the educational and census statistics. In 
this interesting study, however, Ramabhau correlated the two sets of 
statistics and conclusively established that \ the completion of the third 
year class gives literacy according to the census standard ). (Secondly, ' 
this book examines certain aspects mf nrimary education likeNvastage, 
stagnation and single- teacher schools) ^These had been wrongly empha- 
sized in the Report of the Hartog Committee whose main conclusion 
was that the system of primary education in India was largely ineffec- 
tive and that it would, therefore, be .desirable to concentrate on ‘ im- 
provement ’ rather than on ‘ expansion). (Ramabhau declared that this 
would be a fatal policy to be adopted in India. He admits that there 
is a good deal of wastage and ineffectiveness in the existing system, but 
he also points out that the extent of these evils has been greatly exag- 
gerated. His further contention is that the only way to reduce these 
evils is not to go back and emphasize quality, but to go ahead very 
rapidly and to introduce universal compulsory education at an early date!) 

(Lastly, the book again emphasizes the proposals put forward in the 
earlier pamphlet and adduces further evidence in their support) 



A few extracts from this publication will show the main arguments 
put forward. .-<The purpose of this book,” writes Ramabhau, “ is to 
give a message of hope to those who will have the privilege of gui ding 
the destinies of future India, that bad as our educational system has been, 
it has not been so bad as it is made out to be) The situation is hopeful 
if only we cease to be guided by the ideals of an advanced nation like 
England and adopt measures and practices which are more suited to the 
conditions of our people and the financial resources of our country. 
With reference to the minimum education required for the attainment 
of permanent literacy, Ramabhau points out that the book “devotes 
some pages to a critical examination of the available statistical and other 
data relating to mass education not only of this country, but of other 
countries as well. . . . The view prevailing in India today is that no child 
can be literate unless he completes the fourth-year class of the primary 
school; but the statistical inquiry undertaken with the object of testing 
the validity of this view showed that, as in the Dutch East Indies, in 
India also (a chil d acquires census literacy if he is able to complete the 
third-year class of a primary school and mat Tie retains it in his after-life.) 
The Indian official view about the minimum four-class system necessary 
for acquiring literacy has tended to create exaggerated notions of the 
. wastage problem and has been mainly responsible for the undue 
I pessimism about India’s capacity to finance schemes of universal primary 
^education- ’Y ^Ramabhau then proceeds to point out that “ the percent- 
age of literacy in India is very low and that its growth has been alarm- 
ingly tardy.) The most potent cause of this halting progress is the small- 
ness orffie number of pupils under instruction in the schools!) A study 
of the educational statistics of other countries showed that soon after 




xxii Life and Educational Contribution of Shri Parulekar 

their deciding to launch upon a programme of mass education, the 
numbers in schools have swollen to a remarkable extent. In India, on 
the other hand, at no time has this occurred, (it should be remembered 
that in any scheme of mass education, ‘ education must pour and not 
t trickle The key to a rapid expansion of mass education in India, 
therefore, lies in increasing the numbers under instruction in schools as 
quickly as possible')’. Ramabhau then proceeds to analyse the different 
^causes which have led to this slow progress of mass education in the past. 
l v He admits that the inability to find the necessary funds has, among other 
things* contributed materially to the slow expansion of primary educa- 
tion^ But he also contends that * this has not been the only , and not 
even the main difficulty involved.^ vHis own analysis is that the slow 
progress of Indian education is more due to “ a lack of missionary zeal 
on the part of the administrators of education ” and to “ the tutelage of 
the teaching and administrative staffs” of the Department 'who nave 
“ found it impossible to depart from the routine and take initiative to 
explore fresh avenues of reform^)’^ “ This has been the fault of the 
system rather than of individuals,” writes Ramabhau, “ because the fear 
of expressing views which may go counter to those of persons in authority 
has helped to stifle all initiative^ Unless the system is so changed that 
this spirit of apathy and implicit acquisc ence yields place to one of fear- 
less enquiry and expression, there lslitue hope for the future of Indian 
education.” Ramabhau then stresses the importance of literacy in a 
programme of national development and concludes with the following 
magnificent p eroration : — 

“^An almost impassioned plea has been raised in these pages for 
the organisation of a natonwide drive for the early liquidation of 
mass illiteracy in the hope and belief that literacy would add to 
the moral and material welfare of the Indian people} The study 
of history tells us that (every nation, the moment it aspired to 
raise its status in the eyes of the world, has, as the first urgent 
measure, attempted to remove illiteracy and that its progress has 
synchronised with the liquidation of illiteracy} \ It is arguable, 
of course, that this may not happen in our unhappy land. But 

if water chokes, what shall we drinks” 

— y - ■■■■■ 

8. Literacy in India in Pre-British Days (1940): Shortly after 

the publication of the Literacy in India, Ramabhau produced, in colla- 
boration with Shri M. R. Paranjape, a small pamphlet entitled Literacy 
in In di a i n Pre-B ritis h Days* The circumstances that led to the pre- 
"paration of this paper were rather peculiar. In October 1931, Mahatma 
^ Gandhi h ad made an observation at the Round Table Conference in 
Lonflonjhat “ India is more illiterate today than it was fifty or a hundred 
years ago . . . because the British administrators, when they came to 



See pp. 31^-45, supra. 




Life and Educational Contribution of Shri Parulekar xxiii 

India, instead of taking hold of things as they were, began to root them 
outy. Sir Philip Hartog challenged this statement and wrote three 
memoranda, the chief purpose of which was “ to remove, if possible, 
once for all, the imaginary bases for the assertions not infrequently made 
in India that the British Government systematically destroyed the indi- 
genous system of elementary schools, and with it a literacy which the 
schools are presumed to have created”. Thus began a memorable 
controversy in which some educationists argued that the statement made 
by Gandhiji at the Round Table Conference was fundamentally correct 
while others were inclined to think that his observations were based on 
a myth which had no sound historical foundations. Ramabhau and 
Paranjape took up this problem for a thorough investigation in the 
research paper mentioned above, fin the first part of the paper which 
was contributed by Ramabhau, it was proved that Gandhiji’s statement 
which was made at a time when the literacy figures of the 1931 census- 
were not available, must be regarded as fundamentally correct because 
the percentage of adult literacy given in the statistics of Adam (1835-38) 
is higher than that of 19 11 and almost the same as that of 1921) In 
the other half of the paper which was contributed by Shri M. R. 
Paranjape, it is first established that the word ‘ school ’ included two types 
of institutions in the early nineteenth century — a regular ‘ elementary 
school ’ of the ordinary type and( a ‘ centre of domestic instruction ’ in 
which a teacher gave education to a few children at a time!) If this 
definition of a ‘ school ’ is properly understood and if due allowance 
is made for the large number of centres of domestic instruction which 
then existed, (Paranjape proves out that Adam’s Report regarding the 
existence of a lakh of ‘ schools ’ in Bengal and Bihayceases to be a 
‘ legend ’ and begins to appear as ‘ a conceivable fact ’^) (He also proves 
that the British Administrators were not entirely free from the charge 
of having made deliberate attempts to destroy the indigenous schools) 
although a large majority of them died of sheer neglectj Between the 
two of them, therefore, Ramabhau and Paranjape fully vindicated the 
stand taken by Mahatma Gandhi. In order, however, to guard himself 
against any chauvinistic exaggerations, Ramabhau clearly enunciated the 
broad limitations to which his conclusions are subject. “ It is not the 
purpose of this paper,” writes Ramabhau, “ to condemn the educational 
administration of India in the British period as bad in every respect or 
to praise the indigenous system of education which existed in India a 
hundred years ago as good in every way. Even the most violent critic 
of the British Government will admit that/fnodern educational institu- 
tions in India have been a great contribution pf the British people towards 
,the uplift of the country) But even a great blessing may have its defects. 
A white elephant may be a valuable gift or a source of anxiety according 
to resources of the presentee.^ The modern primary schools have been 
valuable institutions from the educational viewpoint; but they have 




xxiv Life and Educational Contribution of Shri Parulekar 

hindered rather than helped the spread of literacy, with the result that 
.in this respect the country has made no advance since the days of Adam. 
( it is even held that India is at present less literate than sh^ was a hundred 
years ago, and the view is based on good foundations?) ( The wholesale 
replacement of indigenous schools by schools conducted or aided by the 
Education Department was not a wise step, and the contention of Indian 
leaders has been that if the British Government had recognised this fact 
early enough and not allowed the indigenous schools to decay and dis- 
appear for want of State support, British India would have shown a much 
better literacy figure today}” 

It is interesting to note that no one has yet come forward to refute 
the arguments advanced in this paper. It may, therefore, be assumed 
that the conclusions reached by Ramabhau and Paranjape have come to 
be largely accepted by the students of Indian education. 

9 - A Period of Strains (1941-48) ; In 1941, Ramabhau retired 

from the Municipal Schools Committee on attaining the age of 55. It 
was not financially possible for him to be without employment as he 
still had to maintain a large family and educate a number of children 
and dependants. Besidesfit is also not in his temperament to sit idle 
as a retired official) He, therefore, accepted the invitation of Shri M. R. 
Paranjape, the then Principal of the Tilak College of Education, Poona, 
and became a member of the College staff. For one year, these two 
veterans worked together and placed the Tilak College of Education on 
a secure footing. In the following year, however, Paranjape retired 
from the position, and Ramabhau also left the College and went to 
Kolhapur where Rao Bahadur Dr. P. C. Patil, the then Education Minis- 
ter of the State, had invited him to be his Educational Adviser and 
Secretary. Ramabhau held this position for one year and then worked 
as the Principal of the Maharani Tarabai Teachers’ Tr aining College, 
Kolhapur, for two years (1943-45). During his stay in Kolhapur I 
have had the privilege of working as his colleague and can, therefore, 
testify to the extremely valuable services that he rendered to the cause 
of education in Kolhapur State. It is on record that the old Kolhapur 
State decided to reorganise its system of primary education on the lines 
recommended by Ramabhau and if the experiments had been conducted 
for a sufficient period, some practical results to demonstrate the validity 
of his thesis would have been available. It was, however, very un- 
fortunate that, owing to uncertain political conditions, the policies 
initiated by him were neither properly executed nor maintained for a 
sufficiently long period. Ramabhau had fondly hoped that the 
Kolhapur State would provide results to justify his theories; but that 
was not to be.* 



# In 1930, Ramabhau and his friends had carried out an educational survey of the 
Sawantwadi State at the instance of the Ruler. But his proposals in the matter were 
not pursued, mainly on account of financial difficulties, and the scheme failed to 
materialise. 



XXV 



Life and, Educational Contribution of Shri Parulekar 

As stated earlier, Shri L. R. Gokhale had tried to obtain official 
acceptance for the views of Ramabhau as early as in 1934. T his 
attempt, like most pioneer enterprises, failed to achieve its object. When, 
however, the Congress Ministry came to office in 1937, the hopes of 
official support were again revived. Ramabhau was appointed a mem- 
ber of the Joshi Committee on vocational education and of the Manshardt 
Committee on Adult Education. The reports of both these Committees 
approve of some aspects of Ramabhau’s scheme. But these are so 
sketchy that they do not amount to an official acceptance of the scheme 
as a whole. A third opportunity to press for the official acceptance 
of his views, however, came soon afterwards in 1940 when the Provin- 
cial Board of Primary Education was constituted by Government under 
the Bombay Primary Education Act, 1923, as amended in 1938. This 
Board consisted of 12 members of whom six were elected by the School 
Boards and the remaining were nominated by Government. Ramabhau 
was nominated on this Board for the trienniu m beginning with 1940. 
Smt. Hansa Mehta, the present Vice-Chancellor* of the M, S. University, 
Baroda, was the Chairman of the Board and its other members included 
Shri D. N. Desai, the present Education Minister of the State, Shri L. R. 
Desai, the present Principal of the A. G. Teachers’ College, Ahmedabad, 
Shri Syed Nurullah, the present Pro-Vice-Chancellor of the Mus lim 
University, Aligarh, Shri S. R. Tawade, the then Educational Inspector, 
Dharwar, and myself. (As was to be expected, Ramabhau placed his 
scheme before this Board which examined it in all aspects and 
unanimously recommended that it should be accepted by the Govern- 
ment of Bombay with the modification that the shift system should be 
Jntroduced, in the first instance, in the first two standards only. Un- 
fortunately, the Congress Ministry was out of office by the time these 
recommendations were made and hence the entire matter had to remain 
in cold storage for a few years^ The problem was, however, taken up 
by Shri B. G. Kher, the then Education Minister of the State, when he 
came back to office again in 1946. \Shri Kher had always been a sup- 
porter of the plans which Ramabhau had been advocating and luckily, 
Shri D. C. Pavate, the then Director of Education, was also a staunch 
advocate of the rapid expansion of education among the masses. 
Government, therefore, accepted the proposals made by the Provincial 
Board of Primary Education. The Infant Class was abolished and the 
ages of admission and compulsion were raised to six plus and seven plus 
respectively. The duration of the primary course was reduced to four 
years and the shift system was introduced in the first two standards. 
It was also decided to introduce compulsory education in the areas of 
all the N.L.A. Municipalities and in all villages with a population of 
1,000 or more, in accordance with a planned programme of five years; 
and it was further announced that universal, compulsory and free pri- 
mary education of four years would be introduced in all parts of the 




xxvi Life and Educational Contribution of Shri Parulekar 

State in a period of io to 12 years. With this announcement, Rama- 
bhau won his first major victory after a continuous struggle of more 
than 12 years. ' \His ideas were now officially accepted in the State of 
Bombay and formed the basis of one of the most outstanding programmes 
of educational expansion prepared by the State Governments in India 
during the last ten years!) 

These public victories for his educational theories were a great gain 
no doubt; but from the personal point of view, it may be said that the 
period of seven years between 194 1 an d I 94 ^ was n °t a happy one on 
the whole. Ramabhau was now required to make a frequent change 
in his place of residence, first to Poona in 1941 and then to Kolhapur in 
1943; and it was only in 1945 that he returned to Bombay and made 
it his permanent home. The increase in the cost of living due to the 
Second World War added materially to his financial responsibilities, 
especially as he had to provide for the secondary and collegiate education 
of «i number of children and dependants. On the other hand, his income 
was considerably reduced because of intermittent employment. He was, 
therefore, required to draw largely on the accumulated reserve of his’ 
small savings. But (as is usually the way with him, Ramabhau took 
his adversities very coolly and even in the midst of the most trying diffi- 
culties and anxieties, maintaiped an admirable balance of mind and an 
inimitable sense of humour) '.What is more surprising, he did not relax 
his studies of educational problems in any way and even under the most 
trying circumstances of this period, he was able to render four great 
services to the cause of education in this State) b 

10. Publication of Manuscript Secretariat Records on Education 
in Bombay State (1945)* The first of these was a project on which he 
had set his heart for a number of years. His interest in old historical 
documents had been greatly kindled when he was preparing for his M.Ed. 
diesis in England and it was revived after 1928 when he began to stay 
in Bombay. He now had several opportunities to inspect and study the 
manuscript educational records preserved in the Bombay Secretariat, and 
it was his favourite pastime, even in the midst of the multifarious duties 
he was required to perform as the Secretary of the Schools Committee, 
to examine and edit these historical documents.! He, therefore, decided 
to publish a series of selections from these records and thereby throw 
valuable light on the early history of education in this State. So long 
as he was burdened with administrative duties of one type or the pther^ 
it was not possible for him to take up this project and complete it. But 
as he had some leisure while working as the principal of the S.M.T.T. 
College, Kolhapur, he decided to briitg out at least the first volume’ of 



* Shri S. R. Tawade has been an enthusiastic supporter of Ramabhau and has 
translated Mass Education in India in Marathi, even at the risk of considerable official 
displeasure. 




Life and Educational Contribution of Shri Parulekar xxvii 

the projected series. With the help of Dr. B. B. Samant who was then 
a member of the College Staff, he collected all the documents bearing 
on the surveys of indigenous education conducted in the State of Bombay 
between 1820 and 1830 and published them, with a very masterly intro- 
duction, in a single book * which he described as the first volume of 
Shri Narayanrao Topiwala Memorial Educational Research Series. 
Unfortunately, he had to carry out this project with extremely limited 
funds and get the book printed in Kolhapur where facilities for efficient 
‘ ■ printing in English are not available. The publication, therefore, leaves 
much to be desired and its paper, type, size and general get-up are far 
from satisfactory. But in spite of its unattractive get-up, the book 
supplied a great need because this was the first occasion when the old 
educational records of the Government of Bombay were made available 
to the students of education in a printed' form. 

11. Report on the Reorganisation of Primary Education in the 
City ©f Bombay (1948): The second important project carried out by 

ftamahhan during this difficult period refers to the reorganisation of the 
r administration of primary -education in the City of Bombay. For a long 
time, the Bombay Corporation was thinking of reorganising the adminis- 
tration of the Schools Committee. When Ramabhau returned to 
Bombay and had some' time to spare for problems of this type, the Cor- 
poration appointed him as a Special Officer to study and report on the 
manner in which the administration of primary education in the City 
was to be remodelled. With the assistance of Shri C. L. Bakshi, who 
had retired after a long service under the Schools Committee, Ramabhau 
prepared a valuable Report and submitted it to the Corporation in 1948.+ 

Books or reports bearing on the problems of educational adminis- 
tration in India are very rare anc^it is a general opinion that Ramabhau’s 
Report on the Reorganisation of Primary Education in the City of 
Bombay is one of the most masterly documents in this field.) (A good 
administrative report can only be written by a person who combines an 
academic outlook with the practical experience of day-to-day adminis- 
trationA Such persons are very rare and we either get the academic 
professor of educational administration who has had no practical experi- 
ence or the veteran administrator who has trained himself in a rule-of- 
the-thumb manner and has had no time for academic studies. It has 
been the good fortune of Ramabhau to be able to combine an academic 
outlook and a scholarly grasp of the theoretical knowledge of the subject 
with a very intimate experience of the difficulties of practical administra- 

* This was designated A Source Book of History of Education in the Bombay 
Province , Part I , Survey of Indigenous Education (1820-30). 

f This has been entitled “ Report on Revision of Constitution, Powers and Duties 
of the School Committee of the Bombay Municipal Corporation, and on the same 
Educational and Administrative Problems of Primary Education in the City of Bombay.'* 
It has since been published by the Corporation (1949). 




xxviii Life and Educational Contribution of Shri Parulekar 

tion. Ramabhau is, therefore, one of the few persons in this State who 
are well qualified to write a dissertation on administrative problems and 
the excellence of his Report on the Reorganisation of Primary Education 
in the City of Bombay can always be cited as a good illustration of this 
theory. 

It is neither possible nor necessary to enumerate here the large 
number of .recommendations which Ramabhau has made in the course 
of this Report. The most important of these were three: In the first 
place, (Ramabhau made a very strong recommendation that the adrnimT 
tration of primary education in the City should be placed directly under 
the Municipal Commissioner by a suitable legislative enactment) 
Secon dly, he stressed the importance of properly constructed buildings 
ifcompulsory primary education was to be satisfactorily enforced and 
suggested that a comprehensive but short-range programme should be 
drawn up for the purpose)) ^nd jhirdly, he advocated the establishment 
of a Research Bureau for carrying out investigations on problems of 
primary education.) All these recommendations were accepted by the 
Corporation and the Government. The old form of administration 
under which the Schools Committee used to function independendy of 
the Municipal Commissioner was done away with and was replaced 
by an Education Committee constituted on slighdy different lines. The 
post of the Secretary to the Schools Committee was converted into that 
of an Education Officer who was directly responsible to the Commis- 
sioner. The Corporation has now approved of a building progra mm e 
of ten years during which period, a sum of Rs. 25 lakhs a year is pro- 
posed to be spent on the construction of primary school buildings. (A 
Research Bureau has also been created and Dr. Smt. Madhuri Shah, 
Ph.D., has recendy been appointed as the Officer-in-charge. This is the 
first Research Bureau of its type to be established by a Municipality in 
the whole of India, and a part of the credit for this valuable reform 
goes undoubtedly to the educationist who suggested it) The other re- 
commendations of Ramabhau are also being gradually implemented. 
The great service which Ramabhau did to the cause of primary education 
in the City during his long tenure of office as Secretary of the Schools 
Committee is well known. But it is a curious coincidence of life that 
the service which he rendered to this cause after his retirement was even 
greater. 

12.- The Ghate-Parulekar Committee (1947-48): The third 
important service which Ramabhau did to education during this period 
was in his capacity \as a member of the SECONDARY SCHOOLS 
COMMITTEE appointed by the Government of Bombay in 1947. This 
Committee consisted of two members only — Shri V. D. Ghate and Shri 
R. V. Parulekar and is hence popularly known as the Ghate-Parulekar 
Committee. Its Report, which is probably the most important docu- 




Life and Educational Contribution of Shri Parulekar xxix 

ment in the history of Secondary Education in the State since 1947, 
examined several administrative problems such as the system of grant- 
in-aid to secondary schools, the rates of school-fees, the emoluments and 
service-conditions of secondary teachers, etc., and made a number of 
important recommendations. Government accepted many of them in 
toto and most of the others were adopted with slight modifications.^ 
(Probably the most outstanding achievement of this Report was the intro- 
auction of a common scale of pay for all secondary teachers, irrespective 
of the fact whether they served in governmental or private school^ (jt 
is known as the Ghate-Parulekar (or briefly G.P.) scale and covers the 
range of Rs. 80-200 for trained graduates!) (in addition, teachers were 
given dearness and some other allowances according to rates framed by 
Government! (It also provided for reasonable security of tenure and led 
to the adoption of a uniform system of grant-in-aid calculated at a 
prescribed percentage of approved expenditure!} It would hardly be an 
exaggeration to say that (this Report has done a lasting service to the 
puse of secqndary education in general and to that of secondary teachers 
in particular) 

13. Educational Survey of the Ratnagiri District (1947-48): 
The fourth important educational contribution of Ramabhau during this 
period was to nold an educational survey of the Ratnagiri District. It 
is well known that the expression “ village ”, as used in census records 
means a “revenue village”. It is fundamentally a unit of area and 
all the people living on that area are shown as the “ population ” of the 
village concerned. But it often happens that a single revenue village 
is often divided into a number of namlets or Wadis each of which is 
an independent “ population centre ”. Not infrequently, these hamlets 
or Wadis are separated by some miles so that the children from one can- 
not attend a school located in another. What an educationist needs, 
therefore, is the determination of the exact number of “population 
centres ” and their distances from one another so that a programme of 
locating primary schools c^n be carefully planned with the object of 
avoiding all overlapping. (As early as 19 11, the Government of India 
had recommended that educational surveys of all the States should be 
carried out so as to enable the Education Department to provide a 
school for every village, however humble, at a minimum total cost) But 
m action had been taken on this recommendAfton. Ramabhau, there- 
fore, decided to carry out a sample survey of the Ratnagiri District with 
the main object of demonstrating the utility of the concept. Assisted 
by the generous donation of Rs. 1,000 which was given by Shri Motiram 
Narayanrao Desai, the Local Self-Governmqit Institute, Bombay, took 
up the cause and under its auspices, Ramabhau carried out the survey 
of Rajapur Taluka with the help of two local colleagues — Shri D. J. 
Kulkarni and D. J. Sardeshpande of the Rajapur High School. The 
Report of this survey, which was soon published by the Institute, 




xxx Life and Educational Contribution of Shri Parulekar 

attracted considerable notice and the Government of Bombay was induced 
to sanction funds for the survey of the District as a whole. Ramabhau 
was associated with this work as Honorary Director and his two old 
colleagues helped him in this task also. The trio laboured at this 
project for about six months (1947-48) and prepared a voluminous 
report in Marathi which gives all details of the 1,345 villages of the 
District which are divided into 9,017 hamlets or Wadis. It has since 
been published in a summary form by Government (1950) and its main 
result was to set up a regular chain of similar surveys. The Government 
of Bombay kept up the idea and carried out the surveys of six other 
Districts, but for some unexplained reason, the work was halted before 
the entire State could be surveyed. The pioneer service which Rama- 
bhau did to this cause cannot, however, be ignored. ^He revived a very 
useful idea and developed it to such an extent that it could even attract 
the attention of the Government of India and find a place for itself in 
the Second Five-Year Plan. It may be recalled that this plan provides 
Rs. 25 lakhs for an educational survey of the whole of India?! 

/ 

14. Director of the Indian Institute of Education (1948-56): In 

June 1948 still another phase began in Ramabhau’ s life with the found- 
ing of the INDIAN INSTITUTE OF EDUCATION. The establish- 
ment of this organisation was made possible because of the valuable 
co-operation of the late Shri G. V. Mavlankar who became its President, 
Smt. Hansa Mehta and Shri Dinkarrao N. Desai who became its Vice- 
Presidents, Shri M. T. Vyas who became the Chairman and Shri S. S. 
Naik and C. D. Barfivala of the Local Self-Government Institute who 
helped it in every way they could} (Ramabhau has been its Director 
since 1948 and it is his inspiration and guidance that has enabled the 
Institute to make a remarkable contribution to education in the fields 
of teaching, research, publications, and educational experimentation. 
From 1948 to 1954, it conducted classes for the M.Ed. degree by papers 
and trained about 350 students, some of whom have distinguished them- 
selves in academic fields and have since come to hold important posts 
in the Department, universities and other educational institutions J (in 
the field of educational research, the Institute has also made an equally 
important contribution. From 1948 to 1956, it admitted about 75 
students to the M.Ed. (by research) and Ph.D. Courses} Of these, a 
total of 16 students completed approved research work and obtained 
degrees — 7 obtaining the M.Ed. degree and 9 the Ph.D. degree in 
education. Besides, as many as 132 students worked on some educa- 
tional problems for their dissertation^ They all obtained a training in 
research methods and some of them eyp n made a humble contribution of 
their own to the thought or available data on some problem. C The Insti- 
tute has also published a number of useful books and research monQ- 
grams and it even conducted a research journal for about three years.'' 

( Finally, the experimental work of the Institute led to the founding of 




Life and Educational Contribution of Shri Parulekar xxxi 

Shri Mouni Vidya Peeth which has since grown into a Rural Institute 
and is one of the ten institutions selected for the purpose by the Govern- 
ment of India in the country as a whole!) 

It is of course true that these great achievements were a co-operative 
enterprise of Ramabhau and all his colleagues. But it must be pointed 
out that his personal contribution to the achievement of these results 
was indeed very considerable and it is all the more necessary to do so 
because Ramabhau himself is always belittling his own achievements at 
the Institute. He regularly lectured to the M.Ed. Students on history, 
administration and philosophy of education. It is no exaggeration to 
say that his were some of the most popular lectures at the Institute. 
While their clarity and scholarship were unchallenged and greatly appre- 
ciated, what really distinguished them and endeared them to the students 
was their superabundance of humour. No subject can be too dry for 
Ramabhau who always sends his class into roars of laughter irrespective 
of the topic he might be speaking on. In the field of research, it may 
be said that a large number of students have worked under Ramabhau’s 
guidance and got the M.Ed. or Ph.D. degrees. In a research paper, 
Dr. V. V. Kamat has pointed out that, out of a total of 64 theses accepted 
so far by the University of Bombay, as many as 14 were prepared under 
Ramabhau.* These cover a variety of subjects; but as is quite natural 
the theses on problems dealing with history— the chief interest of Rama- 
bhau in educational research — are more numerous than any other. In 
respect of publications, Ramabhau’s great achievement during this period 
was to revive and develop the Narayanrao Topiwala Memorial Educa- 
tional Research Series. This was possible partly because of the fi nan cial 
assistance given by Shri Motiram Desai and the Governments of India 
and Bombay, and partly because of the excellent co-operation he received 
from Shri C. L. Bakshi. The volume of old records which he had 
brought out at Kolhapur was again reprinted; + three further volumes 
were published; and one more is under preparation. J In short, it may 
be said that a considerable part of the work turned out by the Institute 
was a personal contribution of Ramabhau, to say nothing of the high 
status which his very presence as Director conferred upon that 
organisation. 

Side by side with the Indian Institute of Education, another 
educational institution in Bombay also claimed the first rank in Rama- 
bhau’s affections. This was the Bal Mohan Vidya Mandir founded by 
Shri S. D. Rege (known as “ Dada ” to all his pupils, friends and 



# For a list of these, see Appendix I. It must be pointed out that some of them 
belonged to the S.M.T.T. College, Kolhapur, and the S.T. College, Bombay, with 
which institutions also Ramabhau was associated as a research professor. 

t As only 250 copies had been printed in 1945, the book was entirely out of stock 

by 1949. 

X For details, see Appendix II. 




xxxii Life and Educational Contribution of Shri Parulekar 

admirers) in 1940. Dada is one of the ablest primary teachers and 
competent organisers that I have ever come across and the Bal Mohan 
Vidya Mandir which has now grown into a big school that conducts pre- 
primary, primary and secondary departments and enrols about 2,500 
pupils bears eloquent tribute to the capacity of this man of humble 
academic attainments and humbler financial resources. Ramabhau was 
attracted to this institution partly because of his love and respect for 
Dada and partly because Dada’s father had been a teacher of his at the 
primary stage. He had declared the school open in 1940 when he was 
Secretary of the Schools Committee; but he had not been able to keep 
in close touch with it when he was at Poona and Kolhapur. On his 
return to Bombay in 1946, however, he accepted the post of the Hono- 
rary Educational Adviser of the school and made it his official head- 
quarters. Ramabhau’s paternal guidance combined with the zeal and 
capacity of Dada has developed the school into one of the best educa- 
tional institutions of its type in the City of Bombay and recently, it has 
even been able to construct a building for itself at a cost of more than five 
lakhs of rupees. 

(With the Indian Institute of Education and the Bal Mohan Vidya 
Mandir to lean on — Ramabhau calls them the two affectionate nurses 
of his old age — life in Bombay became comparatively easier?) In the 
early years of this period, Ramabhau was still extremely hard-pressed 
for funds partly because the cost of living had increased greatly and 
partly because his children were receiving education at the collegiate 
stage. Towards the end of the period, however, he was able to settle 
down more comfortably than in the earlier period. Even before he 
came to Bombay in 1946, his eldest son had already been married and 
well settled in Bombay. During this period, his second son who had 
been married a little earlier also settled down to his own life. His 
third son completed his education at the medical college, got married, 
and started practising on his own. His fourth son developed a printing 
business for which he has a special aptitude and the fifth entered the 
automobile industry. His youngest son also completed his education 
and obtained a job in Government service. The elder of his two 
daughters was suitably married and the younger, who was trained as a 
primary teacher, began to follow a useful career in the teaching profes- 
sion. The son of his brother, M. V. alias Baburao Parulekar (now the 
Headmaster of the Topiwala High School), who had also been educated 
by Ramabhau, completed his preparation for the profession of a 
Chartered Accountant and, by the end of the period under review, 
settled down in a well-established fimj of good reputation. Ramabhau’s 
great family difficulty was that all but two of his children were very 
young at the time of nis retirement and he had to provide for their costly 
education at the secondary and collegiate stage when his own income 
was both meagre and uncertain. He had to face this ordeal for about 




Life and Educational Contribution of Shri Parulekar xxxiii 

fifeen years. But the dark period did come to an end at last and, as 
all is we ll that ends well, Ramabhau can now look forward to a life of 
comparative ease and to freedom from financial worries which had beset 
him almost continuously since 1941. 

15. Other Activities (1948-56): It should not be thought, how- 

ever, that his work at the Institute and at the Bal Mohan Vidya Mandir 
could keep Ramabhau fully occupied. In spite of his years, he had 
still such superabundance of energy that he could attend to a number 
of other activities as well. By now, his reputation as an educationist 
was well-established not only in Bombay State but in the whole of India. 
Several calls were, therefore, made upon him and it must be said to his 
credit that he accepted many of them and carried out his responsibilities 
with an earnestness and efficiency which is but rarely equalled. 

A few of the numerous engagements that he thus fulfilled during 
this period may be mentioned her?. He was often invited to lecture 
to the M.Ed. students by the Universities of Baroda, Poona and Karnatak 
and almost every year, he was invited to be an examiner by a number 
of Universities. The Government of Bombay appointed him as a 
member of the Provincial Board of Secondary Education and that body 
later on elected him as Chairman and this election made him an ex- 
officio member of the STATE COUNCIL OF EDUCATION of the 
Bombay State. This consisted of the Chairmen of all the Provincial 
Boards.of Education and the Education Minister himself was its Presi- 
dent. \It was here that Ramabhau mooted out a suggestion that the 
State should organise a research section as a part of the Education 
Department. A Committee to work out the scheme was also appointed 
but it never met and for sopie inexplicable reason, the whole project 
seemed to have fizzled out.; (it is extremely gratifying to note, however, 
that a Research'TBureau has recently been set up in the office of the 
Director of Education at Poona. A project of still greater significance 
was his association with the MAHARAJA SAYAJIRAO UNIVERSITY 
OF BARODAd He was a Visiting Professor at the University and, as 
already stated, used to lecture to the students on the history and adminis- 
tration of education. For a time, he was a member of the Board of 
Studies in Education and also of the Senate. It may even be said that, 
next to Bombay, Ramabhau was most closely associated with this Univer- 
sity and that he made a significant contribution to the development of 
its Faculty of Education ana Psychology.* (As the Director of the Indian 
Institute of Education, he has recently become an ex-officio member of 
the Senate, Academic Council, and Board of Studies in Teaching of 



* It would not be out of place to state here that Ramabhau was a member of the 
University Committee appointed to report on the affiliation of the Secondary Teachers* 
College, Baroda (out of which the present Faculty has been evolved) in 1934 and that its 
affiliation to the university was largely due to his warm support and strenuous efforts. 
Ramabhau performed a similar service for the S.M.T.T. College, Kolhapur, also. 



xxxiv Life and Educational Contribution of Shri Parulekar 



the University of Bombay . From 1951 to 1954, he was nominated 
as a member of the S.S.C. Examination Board, Poona. Here also, he 
put forward a proposal that a research section should be organised under 
the Foard. This was accepted both by the Board and by the Govern- 
ment of Bombay and a research officer has since been working on some 
examination problems.,* 6 



16. The City Social Education Committee of Bombay: Another 
institution with which Ramabhau was very closely associated during this 

Jv P u r V° CWL ED UCATlON COMMITTEE OF 
BOMBAY. With his keen interest in the problem of literacy, it is 
hardly a matter of surprise if he should be intimately and effectively 
associated with the literacy movement in the State. As stated earlier, 
Ramabhau was a member of the Adult Education Committee of 1027 
He was also associated with the literacy campaign which the Social* 
Service Teague organised in Bombay City in 1939 and was appointed 
a member of the Bombay City Adult Education (now called Social 
Education) Committee right from its start. This association has con- 
tinued unbroken and for some years past, Ramabhau has also been elected 
. as one of its Vice-Presidents. As in other spheres, this position gave 
Ramabhau an opportunity to promote the spirit of enquiry and he fried 
to organise research in the field of adult literacy also. As a personal 
contribution to die problem, he fried to correlate the literacy and census 
statistics of the decade 193 1-4 1, just as he had correlated them for the 
decade 1921-31 m his book. Literacy in India. This paper * is a Hide 
inconclusive but it does throw valuable fight on the contribution of the 
voluntary schools and adult classes. Moreover, it was also at his 
instance tiiat the Committee has undertaken some research work in 
adult literacy and a new tradition is now growing up in the field, slowly 
but steadily. In appreciation of his valuable contribution to the work 
of the Committee as well as of his dose study of the problem, Ramabhau 
was elected President of the AU-India Adult Education Conference held 
at Patna in 1954. \His address on this occasion f sums up his usual 
ideas on the subject very pointedly and shows the need and significances 
of (1) emphasizing the early liquidation of illiteracy, (2) the organisa- 
tion of a research unit, (3) the dangers inherent in a hasty expansion 
programme based on compulsion, and (4) the importance of evolving 
more scientific techniques of teaching adults> One may feel that it is a 
littie too conservative; but there can be no difference of opinion on the 
sincerity and zest which underlie his entire approach. 

a n 7 ’ Committee on Elementary Education in Madras (1Q52V 

A still greater distinction came wheft an invitation was extended tohim 
by the Government of Madras at the instance of Shri C. Rajagopalachari 



# See pp. *46-57. 
f See pp. *58-68. 







XXXV 



Life and Educational Contribution of Shri Parulekar 

who was then its Chief Minister, to be the Chairman of a Committee 
appointed to examine his new scheme of elementary education. ( Ever 
since 19375 the supporters of Basic Education had opposed the introduc- 
tion of the shift system and the adoption of shorter school hours at the 
primary stage) The general opinion, therefore, was that the country 
had to choose between two mutually exclusive alternatives — Basic 
Education or the shift system. Somehow, Shri Rajagopalachari had 
thought intensively about the problem and had come to the conclusion 
that the shift system and Basic Education were not incompatible and that 
it is really possible to combine the financial advantages of the shift system 
with the educational advantages of Basic Education. When he was the 
Governor-General of India, he first gave public utterance to these views 
at the Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, Bombay; but they did not attract 
adequate notice. When, however, he became the Chief Minister of 
Madras a little later, he decided to put them in actual practice on a 
State-wide scale. The decision was fundamentally sound; but it was 
probably a little too hasty and unfortunately, several political considera- 
tions conspired together to rouse a violent opposition to it. It was, 
therefore, felt desirable to refer the whole matter to a Committee of 
Experts for examination. C Ramabhau was invited to be the Chairman of 
the Committee and its unanimous Report is a document of great histori- 
cal significance to Indian education) It marks one step forward in the 
further evolution of Ramabhau’s ideas and reconciles the conflicting 
demands of the shift system and Basic Education by reducing formal 
instruction to three hours a day and by organising an out-of-schot>l pro- 
gramme of suitable activities to make up for this deficiency.* 

18. Text-Books: Another educational but minor activity of 

Ramabhau during this period was the preparation of some text-books. 
Prior to 1941, his only venture in the field was to prepare, in colla- 
boration with another officer, a series of Safety Education books for 
Bombay’s children. But he had no financial interest in them. After 
his retirement, however, he took up the task in right earnest and is now 
known as the author of some good text-books in Geography and Arith- 
metic. His first books on Geography were prepared in collaboration with 
Shri A. N. Sane and Shri Bhansaheb Ajgaonkar. On the death of the 
latter, Shri Modak of Poona was admitted as an additional colleague. 
His work on Arithmetic, however, has been published recently and has 
been done in collaboration with Shri Dada Rege. Still more recently, 
he has also collaborated with Kumari Reuben in preparing a text-book 
in English. I t is true that the main object of those who write text-books 
is to earn m oney . Ramabhau is no exception to this rule, but I do 
EeEeve that it i s a distinct service to education to write a good text-book. 

* The Report of the Committee has been officially published by the Government 
of Madras. 




xxxvi Life and Educational Contribution of Shri Parulekar 

Ramabhau s books on Geography are so popular and have been so widely 
used that they ought to be looked upon as a service to education although 
its significance might not be very great. 

19. Ramabhau the Man: The foregoing review of the main 
events of Ramabhau’s life and his principal writings may be taken as a 
fairly comprehensive introduction to Ramabhau the educationist. To 
those who know him only from his writings, Ramabhau the educationist 
is all that matters. But (the more fortunate few who have come in close 
personal contact with him will readily agree that .Ramabhau the man 
- is an extremely lovable person in himself and that he would have been 
remembered, loved and admired as a great teacher and a good friend 
even if he had not written a single line nor put forward a single theory^ 

I was first introduced to Ramabhau through his books when I came 
across his Mass Education in India and Literacy in India. At that time, 
I was working in villages and was trying to grapple with several pro^ 
blems of rural primary education. Both these books gave me a new 
vision and helped me to understand my problems and to work out some 
tentative solutions for them. But captivated as I greatly was with these 
brilliant documents, I had never looked forward to the happiness of 
meeting him in person and if any astrologer or palmist had then told 
me that I would become his friend one day, I would have ridiculed the 
suggestion as fantastic. But Jife has not yet lost its capacity to work 
.outmiracles; and I met RamabKau in 1940 at the house of Shri S. R. 
Tawade who was then Educational Inspector at Dharwar. I had also 
the good fortune, as stated already, to work as his colleague on the 
Provincial Board of Primary Education. In a very short time, our 
relations developed from a mere acquaintance into friendship and from 
friendship into camaraderie in a common cause. I feel very proud of 
the fact that I have been his colleague for more than a quarter century, 
have shared all his ideas on mass education, and have even been able to 
work them out in some greater detail. Our association has indeed been 
so close that I have almost became a member of his family and from this 
vantage point, I have gradually been able to(realise some of the great 
qualities of Ramabhau the man^his simplicity of life, his unbounded 
affection for every underdog on earth, his extreme kindliness, his capacity 
to forget personal insults or even injuries, his aversion for scenes or 
quarrels, his inexhaustible capacity for continuous and intensive intel- 
lectual work, his unbending devotion to the one ideal of his life the 

spread of mass education in India, and his innate sense of humour which 
has enabled him to triumph over all the manifold adversities of his life^ 

I wish I had the space to describe Ramabhau the man in detail. 

I could then narrate many an incident in his life to illustrate what I 
have said above and try to paint the portrait of a life which can be a 
good example for any teacher to follow. But in this book which is 




. Life and Educational Contribution of Shri Parulekar xxxvii 

mainly concerned with Ramabhau’s contribution to educational thought, 
such personal biography is a little out of place and I will have to reserve 
it for another occasion. But even in this brief review, I cannot help 
describing the jtwo outstanding qualities of life that have' attracted me 
most in Ramabhau. (The first is his spirit of moderation and compro- 
mise. Whether in speech or in writing, Ramabhau will never go to 
extremes. His praise as well as his condemnation is always so balanced 
that it never hurts anyone. When he differs from others, he does it 
with inimitable grace and humility. He is always striving to under- 
stand differing viewpoints and to work out a compromise formula that 
would be acceptable to all concerned. The mere presence of Ramabhau 
on a committee is regarded as a guarantee of some unanimous decisioip 
and I can recall several instances where this unique capacity of his proved 
almost providential. When a violent controversy crops up, Ramabhau 
generally sits listening with his eyes shut — a common habit of his which 
has led to many a comic misunderstanding on several occasions — and 
refuses to be drawn into it on any provocation. But not a word or 
phrase ever escapes him and he keeps on thinking about it till everyone 
has almost exhausted himself with arguments.! Then Ramabhau suddenly 
breaks his silence, sums up the debate, compliments each side on their 
good points, and slowly unfolds a new formula in which each side gains 
something} Generally, he combines his proposal with some good joke 
or the other so that everyone laughs and accepts the compromise and a 
round of tea helps to clear the atmosphere till another fight starts over 
the next item on the agenda. Ramabhau has thus saved many a meeting 
or committee which would otherwise have ended quite differently. 

The second most lovable quality of Ramabhau is his irrepressible 
sense of humour) To be in the company of Ramabhau is to laugh 
almost continuously over one thing or the other and I am almost tempted 
to say that a person who has felt his comfort long would even forget 
to weep. Moreover, what has impressed me most is not the capacity of 
Ramabhau to make the company laugh — many a heartless wit or brain- 
less joker can do that- — but(his genius for making everybody laugh with- 
out hurting anyone. Lucas said that the best humourist is one whose 
"jokes are reported by those against whom they are cut.) T his is entirely 
applicable to Ramabhau who would never hurt anyone for the pleasure 
of raising a laugh. Most of his jokes are impersonal and everyone can 
share them. But when he must laugh at a person, he generally selects 
himself as the target. I have yet to come across a person who enjoys 
jokes against himself to such an extent. When Ramabhau gets into an 
autobiographical mood — this often happens .after a good meal (Rama- 
bhau loves good meals, especially those containing rice, fish, curds and 
mangoes)— he regales his friends with an endless series of personal 
anecdotes in which Jbe laughs against himself. For instance, he would 
describe his early marriage and how he agreed to it because his grand- 




xxxviii Life and Educational Contribution of Shri Parulekar 

mother told him that he would never get another bride; how his father 
was extremely anxious to see a grandson but how the old man died dis- 
appointed; how he attempted to number his children, how it created a 
dilemma when twins were born, and how he got out of it by railin g 
them Nos. 5 (a) and 5(£); how it was then a sgcrilege for a Headmaster 
to meet his European Inspector in ‘ native clothes and how he was 
once compelled to borrow somebody else’s European clothes and practise 
walking with ill-fitting boots when the Educational Inspector was to visit 
his school; how miserable he felt because he had to forego, on account 
of a silly traditional custom, all the excellent chicken served on board 
the steamer that took him to England; how he contrived to get a fish 
to eat when he was in Italy and could only communicate with the waiter 
by placing his finger on a suitable word in the Anglo-Italian dictionary 
he had purchased for himself; how he tried in vain to give up smoking — 
the solitary vice of his life; how he tried to live on borrowed cigarettes — 
he calls them O.P. or * Ot h er People’s Brand ’ — until his friends 
threatened to give up smoking altogether; and so on. I had often heard 
it said that laughter is man’s best defence against personal adversity and 
that the capacity to laugh at oneself is a good guarantee for the proper 
development of one's personality; but I had never realised its significance 
till I met Ramabhau. I think that there can be no better proof for 
these doctrines than the life of Ramabhau himself. 

20. Ramabhau’s contribution to Educational Thought: The 

charming personality of Ramabhau is known only to the circle of his 
friends and its memory will pass out with them. But his educational 
ideology is known to thousands of teachers and administrators who do 
not or even cannot know him personally and it has obtained a permanent 
place for itself in the history of Indian Education. This brief biogra- 
phical account may, therefore, be fittingly closed with an evaluation of 
his contribution to educational thought — a contribution which, I am 
sure, will be remembered long after he and all of us have ceased to be. 

Historically, Ramabhau stands in direct succession to Gopal 

^Krishna Gokhale, the great champion of the cause of mass education. 

(Gokhale would yield to none in his desire for the early introduction 
of universal, compulsory and free primary education and for that pur- 
pose, was willingly prepared to sacrifice quality) (“ The primary purpose 
of mass education,” he said, “ is to banish illiteracy from the land; the 
quality of education is a matter, of importance that comes only after 
illiteracy has been banished.^ (Ramabhau is convinced that this is 
the only correct approach to the problem in a poor country like India 
and he has consequently stuck to it for all these years*) It must be 
noted, however, that he does not merely repeat the words of Gokhale, 
his guru. He has actually carried the torch a step further and worked 
out a feasible scheme for the realisation of Gokhale’s ideal. That this 




Life and Educational Contribution of Shri Parulekar xxxix 

scheme was not universally accepted by contemporary administrators is 
everybody’s misfortune. But the very fact that it is gradually finding a 
larger area of acceptance is a proof of its truth and vitality. To have 
discovered this practicable method of achieving expansion in spite of the 
slender financial resources available and to have held up Gokhale’s ideals 
before the people for upwards of two decades is the great contribution 
of Ramabhau- to the educational thought of India. His other contri- 
butions are comparatively of lesser significance but are quite im portant 
in themselves. Among them may be mentioned the publication of the 
old educational records of the Bombay Secretariat, stimulation of educa- 
tioal research, encouragement of private educational enterprise, and the 
pioneer development of studies in educational administration. When 
all his contributions are put together, I feel no hesitation in saying that 
he is one of the great educationists that Maharashtra has produced during 
the last fifty years./ May he be blessed with a long and peaceful life 
and be spared to perform still greater services to the cause of education 
in days to come! 



Gargoti, 

18th June 1956 



J. P. NAIK